Give Em Enough Rope, Noonan v. Wallace Edition

by evanmcmurry

Nothing better describes the woeful place in which the Republican Party suddenly finds itself than the fact that conservatives are beginning to snipe at each other. As John Dickerson pointed out, if the GOP loses what should have been a gimme election, there’s going to be a war within the Party, roughly along the lines of “Mitt wasn’t conservative enough” vs. “Our radicalism is running into a demographic brick wall.”

There are signs that war has already started. Peggy Noonan has penned (and Noonan seems like the type to actually write by longhand) two WSJ columns this week bashing the Romney campaign. Sample quote:

This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant “rolling calamity.” A lot of people weighed in, in I suppose expected ways: “Glad you said this,” “Mad you said this.” But, some surprises. No one that I know of defended the campaign or argued “you’re missing some of its quiet excellence.”

Points on that last line. Noonan’s advice is “Romney needs to hire James Baker,” which is exactly what you’d expect from someone who’s probably still catching up on episodes of In Living Color, but as she remains a loud voice in the Republican movement, Fox News host Chris Wallace was asked about her criticism. Here’s what Mr. Party Line had to say:

“Peggy Noonan has bashed George W. Bush, based Mitt Romney, wasn’t crazy about McCain. So, [her] conservative bona fides I’m not sure I take too seriously,” Wallace told POLITICO’s Patrick W. Gavin. “[Columnists] like Peggy Noonan, sometimes they’re New York City’s idea of conservatives.”

This is the sort of litmus-test version of conservatism that’s cost the movement much of its intellectual class, in favor of figures like Sarah Palin. And Noonan had about as good a retort as you can imagine:

The column speaks for itself. Can’t say more, on a conference call with the board of the Reagan Foundation.

“Sorry! Can’t hear you! My Reagan setting is too loud!” The fact that two conservative pundits are flinging 1980s mud at each other with 46 days until the election says everything you need to know about Mitt Romney’s polling in the swing states.